Ethics in AI Colloquium - Communicative Justice and the Distribution of Attention

Professor Seth Lazar, Professor John Tasioulas, Dr Jeffrey Howard, Dr Charlotte Unruh
Event date
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required
Not required

Abstract: Algorithmic intermediaries govern the digital public sphere through their architectures, amplification algorithms, and moderation practices. In doing so, they shape public communication and distribute attention in ways that were previously infeasible at this speed and scale. From misinformation and affective polarisation to hate speech and radicalisation, the many pathologies of the digital public sphere attest that they could do so better. But what ideals should guide them? Political philosophy should be of use here, but existing theories typically assume that a healthy digital public sphere will spontaneously emerge if only we get the boundaries of free expression right. They offer little guidance on how to intentionally shape communication and distribute attention. In addition to these theories focused on expressive interests, we need a further theory of communicative justice, targeted specifically at the algorithmic intermediaries that govern the digital public sphere. This lecture makes the case for communicative justice as an urgent area of inquiry for political philosophy, and introduces and defends a democratic egalitarian theory of communicative justice.